A young woman driving a car wearing sunglasses while her dog is sitting in the passenger seat.

Driving and Vision Loss

Living with Stargardt's and knowing in the future that I most likely won’t be able to drive fills me with absolute dread. I passed my test at 17 and have had a love-hate relationship with driving for nearly 18 years. But it has given me independence and having 2 young children, it gives me the freedom to take them places without having to arrange transport.

Just barely passed my last eye test

In a busy household, it also gives me some much-needed time to myself for a little while. At my last eye test, I just clung on to my driving license by one eye. I know the next time if my eyes haven’t settled from pregnancy or have deteriorated further, then I may not be as lucky.

The magnitude of losing one's driving license

What upsets me just as much as actually losing my driving license though, is other people's attitude to my situation. I am often told that at least I have been able to drive and that I will get used to it and that getting public transport will be easy.

This is usually, but not always, said to me from fully-sighted people who don’t understand the magnitude of having their driving license taken away. I think these people forget that as my eyes decline, it’s not going to be simple for me to just read a bus timetable, be able to read the bus number that I need to get, or read the sign on a train platform for which train to catch.

Driving allows for independence and freedom

The above are all of the things people seem to forget. I enjoy my freedom to take my children out by myself. Having someone else with me, who has to tag along because they have driven me there, will be difficult. I will no longer be able to carry out all of the errands that I need to run. I likely wouldn't be able to run them due to both of our already busy weekends.

My dependence on driving

I am very grateful that I have had the time to drive and experience driving. But, had I not, maybe...

  • I would be more public transport savvy
  • The thought of having to get myself somewhere relying on others wouldn’t fill me with dread
  • I would find it easy to take my children exploring by train without getting an anxious knot in my stomach

What I wish others understood

I won’t know how I will cope until the time comes. But, for now, I will just appreciate a little understanding from others that to me, losing my license is a very big deal. It's upsetting to me, however many years I have been "lucky" enough to drive.

I will also hold on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, driverless cars will be available to the visually impaired in the not too distant future so we will all be able to enjoy the roads independently once again.

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